Screaming Goat

Initial Moodle Impressions

Okay, I’ll admit that my initial experience with the Moodle back-end creating a Moodle install and setting up a course from scratch was a bit frustrating. I did this on my own hosting provider/server with the idea that I’d transfer stuff over to the 565 setup later. I’m a believer in exploring the interface to see if it’s intuitive before resorting to the traditional RTFM approach (read-the-flipping-manual is usually step 2). [Please forgive my informal conscious-stream-of-thought-style narrative here].


The first thing I did (after setting up the course) was to try to create the “general” or “summary” information page that appears at the top of a course…so I went to the toolkit provided and began to follow some of the instructions there. I ended up with a page link inside of the top listing. Hmm, that’s not quite what I was after. I’m pretty sure you can have an image at the top of the course as well as some content.


So then I tried: “Edit Course Settings” > “Description” and added my content there. Check it…
Huh, this ends up somewhere else too, probably at the top-level of the course listings perhaps.


So off to the Moodle support site and Google search to find my solution.
But how does one refer to this section exactly? There’s no label, button or indication.


A bit of fumbling around lead me to finally watch a Youtube video (for a related topic) which gave it away. Ohhh, it’s the tiny little grey gear icon floating randomly above the first week that I should have intuitively known to click (sarcasm here). Okay, fine. Time to delete all that other stuff I created in the wrong spots and get serious now.


So I upload a nice banner image (because I feel like there should be something to greet the student and let him/her know they are indeed in the right place). I save the page and try shrinking the window to see what happens to my image on smaller screen devices.
D’oh! It’s not responsive. Okay, no worries, in a responsive template you can often go into the HTML editor and remove set image dimensions assigned by the image uploader, then it will adhere to 100% of the parent container.


No dice. Hmm, okay. Fine. I prefer to have it at 100% width with a max-width property set… but wait, how the heck do I use HTML elements and CSS styling in Moodle?


Back to Google Search & Moodle Docs re:HTML/CSS formatting and styling. This was fairly useless, advice was: create your own theme. I plan to do this later, not now. What about inline styles for this week’s submission until I have time to do that? It’s messy, a pain, and a terrible solutions but it should work temporarily. Maybe, but the editor doesn’t support code hinting or indenting; so am I going to go blind working with it? Yuck.


Try adding some HTML/CSS and we have a winner! (Sort of) Okay, its very unintuitive to get started and not an approved standards-based way to work with HTML… but I’m trying to stick within the parameters of the course for now. I’ll apply best practices in future design when I’m able to implement them on a super-admin level. My conclusion is that many LMS back-end designs are awkward and unintuitive.


For a while there I was feeling a lot like the screaming goat.



Image source:  Kkirugi. (2010). Goat’s horn. [Image file]. Retrieved from Flickr under CC by 2.0 license.

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